The Philadelphia Eagles should be confident, not overconfident mind you, but confident entering Saturday’s NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. To start, winners of Wild Card rounds have won a Super Bowl the past three seasons. Last year the Wild Card Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl XLVII.
The New York Giants were a number 4 seed in 2011 when they crushed the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Finally, the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV in 2010. Three years, three Wild Card teams, all won Super Bowls. The days of Wild Card irrelevance are long gone, and Eagles fans everywhere have to ask themselves “could this be Philadelphia’s season for a deep playoff run?” I understand that you can’t get too hyped up over conjecture, so let me continue with some other facts that should boost Eagles Nation’s confidence.
Saturday’s game time Lincoln Financial Field forecast calls for temperatures in the low 30’s with a 60% chance of rain and snow. New Orleans Quarterback Drew Brees has never, in his entire NFL career, won a game against a team with a plus .500 record when temperatures fall below 40 degrees. If Brees’ cold weather record isn’t enough to get you fired up, Saturday’s conditions hint towards a ground-and-pound running game with a low score and a slippery ball, ripe for Saints turnovers.
That style would play perfectly into the hands of the Eagles number one ranked 160.4 yards per game rushing attack, led by NFL rushing title champion running back LeSean McCoy. The New Orleans Saints biggest defensive weakness this season is that they have allowed opponents the 19th most total rushing yards (1,786) as well as 111.6 run yards per game. The Eagles number one rushing attack versus the Saints highly susceptible number 19 run defense should heavily favor Philadelphia.
On the New Orleans run offense side of the ball, the Saints are ranked near the bottom of the league gaining only 92 yards per game while they are tied for 23rd with just 10 rushing touchdowns. Additionally, the Saints top running back Pierre Thomas did not practice on Wednesday nor Thursday with a chest injury, and is looking doubtful to play Saturday.
New Orleans deploys a “running back by committee” style, however, Thomas was the workhorse with 549 yards on 147 attempts. If the Eagles defense plays to their capabilities, they could quickly turn the New Orleans offense into a one-dimensional attack through the air forcing Brees to throw often in the previously discussed unfavorable weather conditions.
If the facts that Wild Card teams have won Super Bowls the last three years, the Eagles number one ground attack against the Saints nineteenth ranked run defense, the “goose egg” that Brees sports in -40 degree games against teams with winning records, and finally the Saints paltry run offense minus their best running back don’t give Eagles fans a little bit of optimism about Saturday, then here’s one last fact which should lift your spirits.
The New Orleans Saints franchise has never won a playoff game on the road. The Saints are 0-5 all time in away playoff games, and 0-3 in the head coach Sean Peyton/QB Drew Brees era. The Saints have a losing record away from the friendly confines of their home stadium the Superdome this season going 3-5, so it’s like adding insult to injury pointing out the club’s abysmal road playoff record. But, I think Eagles fans will embrace the Saints deficiencies with open arms, and enjoy what should be a great matchup on Saturday.
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